By Ben Lawson
For years drivers have wrangled with heavy traffic on Boyd’s Creek and Pitner Road before and after school. On an average day, it’s estimated that over a thousand cars traverse the area between schools, bringing traffic to a standstill and burning fuel.
Thanks to the daily efforts of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the flow of traffic is manageable, but vehicles nevertheless are forced to idle, in some cases for only a few minutes, much longer in other cases.
Shannon Snelson of Seymour arrives at the High School by 2 p.m. to pick up her daughter, who wouldn’t be home until almost four if she rode the bus. If the weather is nice, she cuts the engine, but not on cold, rainy days.
“I told my daughter, if gas keeps going up, you’re riding the bus,” she said.
She estimated that a quarter tank could be drained on a bad day. Lynn Aikens, who leaves her home in Sevierville by 6:30 a.m. to make it to school, averages around $40 a week.
Jimmy Fekete of Seymour normally arrives 45 minutes early to pick up his child. Although he says the morning traffic is made easier by the student entrance off Pitner, it was still common to burn 3 to 5 gallons in traffic.
That may not sound like much, but it can add up as gas prices continue to climb. According to KnoxvilleGasPrices.com, average prices have risen 1.2 cents per gallon in the past week, totaling $3.35 at the pump. A percentage of which is burned up while sitting in traffic.
A study by the Argonne National Laboratory indicates that every car in the United States, idling for only six minutes per day, would waste three billion gallons a year, and most do not consider passenger cars at schools to be a waste of fuel.
Drivers in Seymour remain divided on the extent of the Boyd’s Creek situation and how it could be corrected. “It’s horrible,” Snelson said. She loves the new traffic light at the intersection of Boyd’s Creek and Old Sevierville Pike and said she felt the intersection with Pitner needed the same.
Pam Reagan of Seymour disagreed, calling the new light a, “Waste of money.” She said being to school by 7:30 a.m. was a necessity.
“You have to leave your house early because you don’t know if you can get your kid there on time,” she said.
ReNeé Pelicano, who has been in the area for a year, said the parents were the biggest problem by not making the process easier. She drives to the High School by 2:20 p.m. every day despite only living a half mile away. Pelicano feels county officials are doing the best they can, but indicates a need for more traffic lights on Boyd’s Creek.
Fekete agrees, calling the new light “A blessing.” He felt that the need was greater there than at the Pitner intersection and said the problem is avoided by just coming a little later. He said a new light at the intersection of Pitner and Old Sevierville Pike would alleviate student traffic.
Mark Danby of Seymour didn’t see a problem at all. He said he wasn’t bothered by the traffic and could breeze through a few minutes before school lets out.
“I’ve seen worse,” he said.
Jimmy Fekete said he has gotten used to the traffic after dealing with it for 10 years. Without a consensus on what the nature of the problem is and how to correct it, more Seymour drivers may end up the same.
Drivers Divided Over Gas Guzzling Traffic
By Ben Lawson